Selection: Jasper (1965)
On Jasper: Freddie Hubbard (trumpet) Sam Rivers (tenor, soprano sax, bass clarinet, flute) Bobby Hutcherson (vibes, marimba) Andrew Hill (piano) Richard Davis (bass) Joe Chambers (drums)recorded Rudy Van Gelder Studio, Englewood Cliffs, NJ, April 3, 1965
Other tracks: Harold Land (tenor sax) Bobby Hutcherson (vibes) Stanley Cowell (piano) Reggie Johnson (bass) Joe Chambers (drums) recorded Rudy Van Gelder Studio, Englewood Cliffs, NJ, November 25, 1968
Bobby plays vibraphone and marimba here. There is a bewildering range of these percussion idiophones, including vibraphone (or vibraharp – the registered name of one manufacturer of vibraphones), the marimba, xylophone and glockenspiel. The last two feature octave displacement.The marimba is a non-transposing instrument with no octave displacement, unlike the xylophone which sounds one octave higher than written and the glockenspiel which sounds two octaves higher than written. So now you know.
Yo! Holy Vinyl Bonus Tracks! Jasper was recorded in 1965, in the same Englewood Cliffs session as Hutcherson’s superlative definitive Blue Note album Dialogue, but not included on that LP. The song first appeared courtesy of Liberty/United Jazz Classics LT series album in 1979. For this reason alone, Spiral is essential purchase, and cheap as chips compared with Dialogue.
Hutcherson performs as you would expect, great. The added excitement is the presence of Freddie Hubbard, Andrew Hill and Sam Rivers. Sam Rivers is a “bad boy”, given to visceral shrieks and bombast on tenor, aggressive adventurous sorties, his Blue Notes are a must (Fuschia Swing Song) and his adoption of bass clarinet in this session is sheer delight, seriously bad noises, Dolphy looking on from above would approve. Hubbard’s burnished gold tone became adventurous but kept everything grounded. Hill always adds an intellectual dimension to “piano accompaniment”, straying outside conventional melodic boundaries.
Other tracks on Spiral feature dream-team Richard Davis and Joe Chambers and – bubbling, off-centre melodies, a debt here and there to Out To Lunch, Hutcherson weaving cool metallic patterns against Stanley Cowell’s expansive percussive comping.
There is quite a lot of excellent Hutcherson material on a number of these blue-label United Artists titles curated by Michael Cuscuna in the late ’70s. Medina also has a lot of interesting material , but Spiral is the essential one.
The minimal cost of these UA titles there is no reason not to grab all three. Whilst I have been quite critical of the audio quality of some of the LT series, I have to confess I have enjoyed listening to these recently. Anything recorded by Van Gelder has a good pedigree, difficult to mess up.
Vinyl: Liberty United LT 996 US
Recorded by but not mastered by Van Gelder, but still sounding good as anything from the Dialogue session should.
The Jazz Classics LT series are a mixed bunch. I have previously lamented the weak presentation of some of the Mobley recordings, though the Lee Morgan’s I found better than expected. Given the extraordinary quality of unreleased material found by Michael Cuscuna in the Blue Note vaults, it would be churlish to overlook them. They are fairly easily found, not expensive, and the Hutcherson Retrospective has encouraged me to revisit others on the shelf. There is some good listening in there.
Any other recommendations from the LT series welcomed, as always, have your say.
Postscript Sept 10, 2016
The 1979 US Blue Note CLASSIC (Liberty/United) LT series was released simultaneously in the UK with the same artwork, but dubbed The JAZZ FILE, catalogue numbers change from LT to LBR.
In my limited experience the British pressings are a poor relation of the American. The US pressings will have been mastered from original Van Gelder tapes (Van Gelder recorded, mastered by UA engineers), whilst the Jazz File UK equivalents will be locally re-mastered from second generation copy tapes, which is not the best start in life.